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Twitter launches Ramadan 'hashflags', service to find imsak and iftar times
Thursday June 26, 2014 11:07 PM, Agencies

Social networking site Twitter Thursday introduced a special set of "hashflags" for users observing Ramadan and celebrating Eid, along with a service to find out the time of 'imsak' and 'iftar' - the Arabic terms used for the time to begin and end the fast respectively.

Twitter Ramadan handler

The launch of the Ramadan "hashflags" is Twitter's second following from the state-specific flags introduced during the world cup, according to the Guradian.

Users of the service tweeting #Ramadan or #Eid, in Arabic or English will see special icons – a crescent moon and Arabic calligraphy, respectively – next to the tags.

"This week, more than 1.5 billion Muslims around the world will observe the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar as Ramadan, the month of fasting," the Guardian quoted Twitter as saying.

"And they will also gather on Twitter to share their celebration. In fact, based on our research, people sent more than 74.2m tweets about Ramadan from around the world last year", it added.

Twitter's data team put together a visualisation to show how users tweeted about Ramadan in 2013. In the US, "long summer days mean that people often tweet about how hungry and thirsty they are during Ramadan", while in the UK and Malaysia, the word "happy" predominates. Prayer, or صلاة, "is mentioned most often in Ramadan tweets from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt".

As well as adding a little extra colour to the site, Twitter is providing a more useful service to its Islamic users: from Friday, anyone can tweet Arabic news channel al Arabiya to find out when iftar is in their location. Users need to tweet #iftar and then their location (#london or #newyork, for instance) to @alarabiya to find out what time in the evening they can break their fast.

To do the same with the beginning of the fast, they can send #imsak instead.

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